I know next to nothing about art, but I do know that I like almost anything by Winslow Homer. If I were to go out and collect originals of his works, it would cost me many millions that I don’t have (assuming they came up for auction in the first place, which happens only rarely). If I were to go out and collect framed prints of his works, it would still cost me several hundred dollars (and as a devout frugal fringer, I’m reluctant to part with any hardearned greenbacks). If there were some way to own Homer’s works for FREE, I’d be on it in a heartbeat.
Hence, this post.
The internet democratizes art. Several museums now offer vast swaths of their holdings for free viewing and, in some cases, for free downloading as well. This makes it possible for you to conduct your own perfectly legal art heist. Download your favorites, create a slideshow, set it to music, load it into your DVD player, and enrich your cultural self for nothing as you exercise upon your treadmill. Or try this. If you already own one of those digital photo frames that were so popular a few years ago, load it up with artworks and enjoy a world class rotating gallery at no charge whatsoever.
Here are several sites to get you started.
1. National Gallery of Art, Location: Washington D.C.
Provides open access to 25,000 high resolution digital images. Free downloads. Visit https://images.nga.gov/en/page/show_home_page.html.
2. Rijkmuseum, Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Provides access to 125,000 images for free online viewing. Lets you build your own personal galleries. Free downloads for personal use. Visit https://www.rijksmuseum.nl/en/rijksstudio.
3. National Gallery of Art, Location: London, Great Britain
Provides access to 2,500 images for free online viewing. The site charges a small fee for downloads. Visit http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/collection-overview/.
4. Smithsonian American Art Museum, Location: Washington D.C.
Provides a large number of online exhibitions. No downloads. Visit http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/.
5. Google Cultural Institute, Location: The Cloud
Explore the world’s cultural treasures online: museums, world wonders, and exhibitions. No downloads, but plenty of free viewing. For details, visit http://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/about/.